Wrestling headliner makes stop in Hazard

Amelia Holliday aholliday@civitasmedia.com

July 21, 2014

HAZARD—Wrestling fans from across the region came in droves over the weekend to hear a retired wrestler—who has been called a legend in the professional wrestling world—speak at the Perry County Public Library.

Mick Foley greeted a crowd of over 500 people at the library in Hazard Saturday afternoon. What was originally planned to be one inspirational speech followed by a short autograph session turned into three talking sessions due to the massive crowds that lined up across the Black Gold Boulevard and well past the J.C. Penney clothing store.

Foley admitted that he was a bit wore out from being on the road for so long, and had been happy to think that the crowds might not be as bad at one of the smaller stops on his speaking tour. After arriving in Hazard, though, Foley said the size of the crowds actually improved his spirits.

“Seeing hundreds of people lined up in the hot sun in front of a library will change your mind in a hurry. So, I’ll do the best I can to make sure that everyone leaves with a smile on their face and maybe a little bit of inspiration,” he said before his first talking session.

Jennifer Young, Youth Services Librarian at the library, said she was thrilled that due to the collaborative effort of her and Adult Services Librarian Amy Eversole, the library was able to give the people of Perry County exactly what its people wanted.

“It was a big get, it was a collaborative effort on everybody here’s part,” Young said.

Young explained that the library reached out to Foley online, and was able to book him for an appearance—something she didn’t think would be so easy.

“We got online and we just kind of stalked him out and he agreed to come and he’s wrote so many great books. His life is an inspiration, and that was why we got him to come,” Young said. “We’re still not real sure how we got him here. We just did.”

That will power and hard work to get Foley to make an appearance in Hazard fit right in with the 49-year-old author, actor, and retired wrestler’s message for the day.

“You don’t know unless you try,” Foley told the first crowd in the library auditorium.”Even the best careers are filled with more failures than successes.”

Foley went on to talk about his career, which included working for wrestling promotions like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW, and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).

He told the crowd of fans that his first real wrestling character, Mankind, was only given to him because he would have to wear a mask over his face, adding that he had been denied previously due to his appearance.

But, he said, this didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams and career and becoming great at what he did.

“If you kids are out there and you think that something’s not possible—and I’m not talking about jumping off of high distances,” Foley laughed, speaking of some of the high risk aerial stunts he had performed in his career. “If there’s a project that you want to work on, a book that you want to write, something that people tell you you can’t do—you never know unless you try.”

Young said she though the message from Foley, who is originally from a small town himself, would help inspire those in Hazard who are hoping to do good for both themselves and their community.

“Even though you come from a small town … you can do things,” Young said. “You’ve got InVision Hazard doing all kinds of awesome stuff, and I think it goes right along with everything else that’s going on in our community.”

Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.